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Nearly Half Of U.S. Adults Admit Trying Marijuana: Gallup

Nearly half of American adults now admit they’ve tried smoking pot. The percentage now stands at 49%.


Almost half of American adults now admit they’ve tried smoking pot. The percentage of U.S. adults who admit they have tried marijuana has gone up to 49%. The update latest numbers from Gallup’s most recent Consumption Habits Poll.

That’s the, well, highest number Gallup has measured to date. Just over 50 years ago, only 4% said they had tried the herb. But that percentage surpassed 20% in 1977, 30% in 1985 and 40% in 2015. The sharpest rise in reported usage occurred during the 1970s, when the percentage increased from 4% to 22%.

A much smaller proportion of U.S. adults, 12%, say they currently “smoke marijuana.”

The percentage of current Cannabis smokers has been steady in recent years. It varies between 11% and 13% after increasing from the 7% Gallup initially measured in 2013.

Generational Patterns Explain The Increase

Generational patterns explain the increase in marijuana experimentation over the last five decades. The oldest Americans today, those born before 1945 whom Gallup calls “traditionalists,” are much less likely to have tried Cannabis. Just 19% of traditionalists say they have done so. That compares with about half of millennials (51%), Generation Xers (49%) and baby boomers (50%).

These generational figures are based on combined data from the 2015-2021 Consumption Habits surveys. Gallup said it doesn’t have enough data to provide reliable estimates for Generation Z, the oldest of whom are now 24 years old.

Comparing recent figures with data from the 1980s and 1990s finds little change in the rate of Cannabis experimentation. Data from 1985 and 1999 polls shows that 44% of Gen X and 50% of baby boomers had tried marijuana then.

During those years, a lower proportion (10%) of traditionalists than today had tried Cannabis. The increase in that group compared with the 1980s and 1990s probably reflects dying off of the oldest members of that generation. They were much less likely than younger traditionalists to have tried marijuana.

With little change in rates of Cannabis experimentation, the increase in the proportion of U.S. adults who have tried marijuana mainly reflects millennials replacing traditionalists.

Younger Americans, Liberals, Democrats Most Likely to Smoke Cannabis

Americans born during the Baby Boom era or later differ little in whether they have tried marijuana. But according to Gallup, younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to say they currently smoke Cannabis. Democrats are more than twice as likely than Republicans to say they smoke pot; liberals are almost four times more likely than conservatives.

The combined 2015-2021 data shows 20% of millennials smoke marijuana. This compares with 11% of Gen Xers, 9% of baby boomers and 1% of traditionalists. These age differences have been consistent in Gallup’s polling. They indicate people tend to try Cannabis while younger, but most no longer continue smoking it.

In addition to the age differences in current marijuana smoking, Gallup also found differences by gender, religiosity, political orientation and education:

  • Sixteen percent of men, versus 9% of women, smoke Cannabis.
  • Just 3% of Americans who attend religious services weekly, and 6% who attend monthly, say they smoke marijuana. In contrast, 19% who seldom or never attend religious services do.
  • Twenty-two percent of political liberals and 15% of Democrats regularly use Cannabis, compared with 6% of conservatives and 7% of Republicans.
  • The rate of marijuana consumption is 5% among those with a postgraduate education, compared with 14% of those with a four-year college degree or less.

Gallup: ‘Steady Climb’

The percentage of Americans who have tried Cannabis has steadily climbed in recent decades, according to Gallup. Soon it should reach 50%, but it may not get much higher than that given the rates of experimentation have been steady around 50% in Gen Xers and among baby boomers.

Half of millennials have also tried marijuana, and with many in that group approaching middle age, that proportion seems unlikely to increase in future years.

As such, Gen Z’s incidence of trying Cannabis will likely determine the trajectory of the trendline. If Gen Z experimentation rates are similar to their predecessors’, the percentage may soon level off. It could, however, continue to grow if Gen Z and succeeding generations try marijuana at rates above 50%, according to Gallup.

Gallup has a shorter trend line on current Cannabis smoking. That percentage has been steady near 12% in recent years. Still, nearly as many Americans today say they smoke marijuana as say they smoke cigarettes, given the long-term decline in tobacco smoking.

Results Based On Consumption Habits Poll

The results are based on Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted July 6-21.

The poll was conducted between July 6-21 and has a random nationwide sample of 1,007 adults. The margin of sampling error is 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

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